Greenbuddies NewsUpdates from the world of renewable energy

Greenbuddies Tips – July 2022 28.07.2022

Greenbuddies complete 2.1 MWp rooftop project in Belgium ahead of schedule

Our Greenbuddies team has finished work on a 2.1 MWp rooftop project in the Wallonia Region in Belgium. Situated on top of the headquarters of a logistics company, a total of 4684 PV modules were installed, along with 13 inverters and app. 50 km of DC cables.

We have again proven to be the “Unstoppables” as our team was able to work around encountered problems, as the crane could be moved only from a certain date. Rather than waiting for this day to come, we mobilized a higher quantity of workers to distribute the lifted material around the roof. This way, the project was able to be finished and handed over 20 days before the planned deadline, thus adding another green energy source to the Belgian market.

Newly finished rooftop project in Wallonia, Belgium

Photovoltaic façade systems – a means of integrating green energy into the building’s structure

The demand for photovoltaic installations is growing, a well known fact we keep repeating each month. This is mainly due to rising energy prices, which are forcing consumers to look for alternatives in order to save money. The interest in rooftop and ground-mounted solar power installations is huge and growing. It is not surprising that the search for various uses of photovoltaics is growing as well. One of these solutions is a façade or wall-mounted photovoltaic power plant, a type of installation which has been used increasingly in recent years. It is an ideal solution for buildings that do not have a suitable roof or as an addition to an existing roof installation.

Façade systems are usually installed on south-facing walls. They can be mounted parallel to the wall or with a slight tilt. Façade systems generally produce less energy than rooftop and ground-mounted installations. Due to this, it usually does not make sense to mount the modules on a walls other than the south-facing ones. In general, wall-mounted solar panels produce more electricity in the winter months than in the summer. This is because the sun is lower in the sky during this time, so more direct sunlight hits the wall-mounted panels.

Illustrative picture, Source: Architizer.com

The naturally steep slope of wall-mounted solar panels requires special hardware to install and secure. They are more difficult to fix than ground-mounted or roof-mounted solar panels. The mounting system can be attached directly with anchors drilled into the wall, or the installation can use support columns that are erected against the wall and to which the panels are then attached. As façade systems fight gravity to remain upright, strong securing is essential to prevent displacement, damage and life-threatening accidents.

In terms of cleaning and maintenance, this system is easier to maintain than conventional ground and rooftop power plants. The accumulation of dirt, snow and other items is almost never a problem because rain washes away any debris and gravity prevents the accumulation of leaves and other debris, which contributes to easier cleaning. Wall-mounted modules are also more visible and do not require climbing on high roofs to assess their condition. Climbing onto the roof is a burdensome and often a risky task for many power plant owners. Wall-mounted panels provide the advantage of easier visual access to keep track of any cleaning or maintenance needed.

Illustrative pictures, Source: Architizer.com

Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is another and more challenging and expensive option in terms of installation. This is a solar energy system that is seamlessly integrated into the building’s outer shell and is usually part of construction elements such as façades, roofs or windows. The BIPV system serves a dual purpose, being an integral part of the building that not only converts solar energy into electricity, but also provides other necessary functions such as thermal insulation or noise protection. These systems can be installed during the construction of a new building or installed as part of the refurbishment of an existing building when the usual components need to be replaced.

Greenbuddies Consulting team of experts provides complete support for PV projects

In the context of the dynamic development of solar projects in the Czech Republic, it has been proven crucial to be able to work on customer projects not only during the actual implementation but ideally already in the so-called pre-construction phase.

At Greenbuddies Consulting, we offer a complete solution – from the initial study or processing of an application for connection to the distribution network to the preparation of project documentation, applications for subsidies or negotiations with the relevant authorities. We also help customers better understand the time, financial, technical and organisational parameters of their project.

A preliminary administrative and technical site assessment enables customers to verify whether a solar project is feasible at a given location in terms of obtaining the relevant permits, connecting to the grid and whether the project makes technical sense. The PV framework design is a way to determine the expected performance and architecture of a future PV project without having to commission an extensive design for planning permission at this stage. The subsidy opportunity analysis will answer customers’ questions about currently announced subsidy programs and their suitability for the customer’s project and outline an approximate timeline for the necessary steps.

A frequently used service is the calculation of investment and operating costs related to the implementation of the PV project.

Then, in the project gets a green light, Greenbuddies can prepare complete project documentation for the construction permit or, if necessary, the implementing documentation. We also provide customers with the necessary applications for grid connection, building permits or subsidies.

We offer these consulting services for the entire Czech Republic, both for ground-mounted PV installations and for rooftop projects on large commercial and industrial buildings.

Market Footprint 2Q 2022 22.07.2022

Greetings,

We hope all is well with you and your business!

We would like to share some news with you. 

Today, we are happy to say we have already completed over 600 MWp in the past 5 years and are still growing day by day, as our teams are working all over the European Union. You can check out the details in our quarterly Greenbuddies Market Footprint 2Q 2022.

If you have any projects where we can be of any help, don’t hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards,

Greenbuddies Tips – June 2022 27.06.2022

Greenbuddies open a new market in Croatia with 1.5MWp installation

Our Greenbuddies team has completed the first project lined up for this year in cooperation with our client E.On Hrvatska.

This pilot project in our newly opened market is situated in the Osijek-Baranja County, in inland Croatia on the site of a sunflower oil production plant. Our team was responsible for the mechanical completion of substructures, PV module placement and the complete DC installation, along with the laying of AC cables. This project is a complex combination of rooftop and ground mounted PV of a total capacity of 1.5 MWp.

Newly finished rooftop and freefield project in Croatia

Altogether, 2278 panels were installed on three separate rooftops and a total of 3900 panels on three spaces on the ground. A total of 18 inverters were installed. Our Greenbuddies team has proven again that we are the “Unstoppables”, as a fixed deadline was set and fulfilled.

At the moment, our team has started work on another site in this region in the East of Croatia, this time on a 10 MWp freefield project and more are in the preparation phase.

Solar carports – the future of clean energy

With the rising demand for electric cars and charging infrastructure, the interest in generating solar power is also increasing. Photovoltaic power plants built on the roofs of large car parks are called carports and are the most efficient form of generating renewable electricity for this purpose.

Due to the energy prices rising as well as subsidiary possibilities concerning the Green Deal, many investors are planning new ground-mounted parks. Moreover, investors are planning projects on the roofs of industrial buildings, unconventional solar installations on water, and carports. All these innovative ideas are addressed in this post.

Types of carports used in Lutzmannsburg project, Source: pmt.solutions

With the European Union announcing plans to end the sale of cars that run on fossil fuels by 2035, an increasing number of car companies intend to start producing electric cars in the upcoming years, if they are not already doing so. However, cars running on electricity currently face criticism for the fact that their fuel is produced in thermal power stations or nuclear reactors, which emit harmful substances into the air.

Non the less, multiple solar energy providers claim that solar panels on the roof of a garage produce enough electricity for a car to travel 12,000 kilometres a year on solar power. This more cost-efficient way of producing energy can start paying for itself after a period equivalent to the 50th to 60th fill-up of a tank of petrol.

According to advocates of renewable energy sources that could power electric cars, other price developments argue for energy generated from the wind and the sun. While fuels such as petroleum are likely to become more expensive, the cost of solar panels and renewable energy generation, in general, is reducing. This also means that carports are being built and complemented by EV charging stations by a variety of companies. This is for the use of generating power for their company fleets of electric cars as well as sheltered parking spaces near supermarkets for the use of their customers.

Among the manufacturers and producers of carports, we should mention Adiwatt, BAYO.S, Borabela, Pradecon, TreeSystem or Hartig Wenzel from Elsenfeld, Germany, with whom our Greenbuddies Charging team is currently actively cooperating on a Truckport project in the Central Bohemian region in the Czech Republic. 

Carports are also an integral part of another Greenbuddies Charging EPC project in Lutzmannburg, Austria. With a PV plant of 1.5 MWp, it is the largest carport project in Austria. The structures of the carports sheltering 454 parking spaces were supplied by PMT. Above are some photos of the progress and implementation of the work. 

The Greenbuddies team has also installed over 450 PV modules on carports situated on a parking lot of a supermarket near Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Q&A Session with Greenbuddies

Dear readers, 

the other day, I counted all our internal staff within the Greenbuddies group. We welcomed our 50th colleague at the turn of 2021/22, while today we are at 56 members. It is estimated that we will have 60 team members in both our Czech and Dutch offices by the end of this year.

It isn’t feasible to name each team member here, but let me introduce 3 of them:

Sales Buddy Jan Spudil – new addition to our Sales support team, he is entering his last year at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague

Chief Consulting & Development Buddy Petr Štajner – high profile manager with 25 years of experience in infrastructure development in the energy and telecommunication industries

Chief Procurement Buddy Petr Janda – experienced procurement manager with many years procuring technical equipment for some of the largest companies in the Czech Republic

Read below to read their responses to our questionnaire!

Aleš Spáčil

Chief Sales Buddy

Jan Spudil

• As a part of the PV team, what sorts of trends do you see?

People began to realise very quickly that investing into solar energy is a good way to protect savings in times of high inflation, while offering a degree of independence from the volatility of the energy market.

• Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work with Greenbuddies?

Vladimir Putin with his attack on Ukraine – it is crucial to get rid of the dependence on Russian gas in Europe.

• What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?

I would tell them to build it, because the return on investment is favourable given current energy prices, and the more energy self-sufficient businesses and households there are, the better.

Petr Štajner

• What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?

I would tell him to stop thinking and start the project immediately!

• If you could change one thing about the Solar Industry, what would it be?

All the approval and permit processes simply take too much time. Everyone would benefit from the acceleration.

• What do you think will change about the PV world over the next five years?

I’m not sure if this will really happen, but I would like to see a much stronger market position for European component and technology manufacturers.

• What do you do when you aren’t working?
Mainly travel and sport but I would like to do more ..

Petr Janda

• What has surprised you most about working with Greenbuddies?

I like, I would call it „Start-up culture“, that the company has in its roots. And the associated flexibility in issue solving. Any good idea for improvement is welcomed and it can be implemented in pragmatic way.

• If you weren’t in Greenbuddies, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

I would be probably working for some company in the financial sector. That was actually the reason why I joined Greenbuddies in mid of April. I wanted to try something new in the developing industry with a huge potential for growth in the future what the Solar segment definitely is.

• What do you do when you aren’t working?

I usually spend my leisure time in nature and playing tenis, swimming or riding a bike. In the winter I go skiing and snowboarding. I also like history, especially the history of the 20th century. However, I don’t have much free time lately:)..

Greenbuddies Tips – May 2022 25.05.2022

Greenbuddies reveal new visual identity at Intersolar 2022

Our Greenbuddies team recently participated in the Intersolar exhibition in Munich, which took place on May 11th until May 13th, 2022. We attended the Intersolar exhibition multiple times before, but this year was our first time having a booth and exhibiting our company at the massive photovoltaic-themed trade fair.

The Greenbuddies booth was located in the centre of Hall A5. By hanging an inflated yellow sun above our booth, it was quite easy to spot. We took this opportunity to launch our new visual identity at this event, created by studio Dipozitiv. This new visual identity caught the attention of many visitors and our pins with solar-inspired quotes put smiles on their faces.

Greenbuddies booth at Intersolar 2022

To continue on the topic, due to the fact that our teams and operations are expanding each year, we had decided to take the next step and professionalize our brand’s visual identity. One of our main demands for this new branding was to refrain from being completely serious and straightlaced because we do not consider ourselves a corporate structure. Rather, as reliable buddies for our partners and clients. We like to think that we have achieved this with our new clean and light-hearted visuals which are applied consistently in all forms of the company’s presentations.

We have been visiting Intersolar regularly in the past decade or so, and we are glad that this year, the event itself was much larger than in the past couple of years. We like to see that the scale of the vent reflects the situation in the PV market, as it has expanded to include companies in the EV sector, battery storage, there are banks specializing in renewables. We are glad to see it is very target driven and a great place to do business.

The Greenbuddies team realizes that it is the perfect opportunity for meetings. Over 90 sessions took place at our booth in the duration of the trade fair, with representatives from our PV, EV Charging, Development and Purchasing departments having been present. We are positive in that these meetings will bring new projects with both our existing and new contacts in the future.

We look forward to coming back to Intersolar next year seeing as we were very happy to meet with our business partners in person, after such a long period of only online communication because of the coronavirus pandemic. We think that this is essential for a good partnership, as we aspire to be your buddies in the field of PV.

Detail Greenbuddies marketing items                                                                                                                                                                                                             New brochure design

Greenbuddies Charging’s fruitful cooperation with the global charger manufacturer TRITIUM

The cooperation between our Greenbuddies Charging team and IONITY (Tritium charging station manager) began in April 2021. This is where we participated in the repair of the IONITY charging station at the SHELL – Nupaky gas station, which was the first in the Czech Republic to be equipped with an ultra-fast charging station.

After this test, we got in contact directly with Tritium – an Australian manufacturer of EV charging stations, who gave us access to their portal. This portal is where our company orders repairs (replacements) of charging stations for Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

We were also granted access into their own training portals which helped improving our charging station servicing know-how. We have been applying this with the support of IONITY for over a year. This is typically either component replacement during service or a complete replacement of the charging station and its testing. The work is varied and very specific.

Upon completion of the service intervention or replacement, we enter all documents into the TRITIUM portal, where the customer checks and then approves the financial settlement.

At the end of 2021 TRITIUM has achieved a world first – it will supply ultra-fast charging stations for SHELL. It is estimated that 500,000 charging stations will be built by the end of 2025 and in the next 5 years up to 2.5 million AC type2 charging stations. In addition to Europe, this is also planned for South Africa, Asia, North America and the Middle East. Tritium has built a total of 6,700 fast charging stations in 41 countries so far.

Here is a brief history of  TRITIUM:

2013
Introduction of RT50
The world’s smallest DC fast charger for electric vehicles. This charger was also the first in the world to be IP65 rated and the first in the world to have fully customizable signage.

2017
Tritium expanded from its home continent of Australia and entered the US market with the establishment of its first international office in Torrance, California.

2018
Entry into Europe
Opening an office in Amsterdam, in order to provide efficient support to existing and future customers on the old continent.

2019
Partnership with Ionity
The joint venture between Daimler, Ford, BMW Group and Volkswagen Group with Porsche AG unveiled a next-generation charger designed, industrialized and manufactured by Tritium.

2020
First to plug in and charge
Tritium has become the first company in the world to introduce Plug and Charge technology (ISO 15118), which enables EVs and charging devices to communicate, authenticate and seamlessly transact via a charging cable.

2021
Launch of a 150kW DC fast charger providing a modular and scalable direct current (DC) fast charging system designed for more cost-effective operation and infrastructure expansion to further the development of electric mobility.

Greenbuddies Charging is a proud installation and service partner of Tritium. We have passed a set of stringent criteria emphasizing superior quality, speed of implementation and efficient deployment of service teams. Going forward, we are confident that the scope and geographic reach of our collaboration with this major manufacturer of electric vehicle chargers will continue to grow. We are ready to do our best to achieve this goal.

Tritium EV chargers evolution

Greenbuddies complete 1.1 MWp rooftop project in the Netherlands

Considering that rooftop PV plants are popping up all over Europe with lightning speed, we are adding more under our belt too. An example of this is the 1,1 MWp rooftop DC installation on an old-timer car service building that took place in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands.

Our Greenbuddies team has proved to be able to work around encountered barriers. In this case, the roof was flat and had many skylights, which complicated the movement of our workers on the roof. Nevertheless, our team managed to install over 2400 PV modules along with 8 Huawei inverters on Avasco SolarSpeed mounting systems.

We are glad to have added more green solar power to the Dutch booming market.

Greenbuddies Tips – April 2022 29.04.2022

Greenbuddies participate in the electrification of the service fleet in the banking sector

In March 2022, the Greenbuddies Charging team started working with ChargeUp Services CZ, which is the general charging infrastructure provider. This partnership was formed to electrify the service fleet of Komerční banka (KB) – a Czech member of the Société Général banking group as well as a leading banking institution in the Czech Republic.

At the beginning of 2022, KB, a.s. announced its strategic intent to have a quarter of its fleet of company cars fully electrified by the end of the year. Moreover, to have approved massive investments in the purchase of electric vehicles. Along with this, they expect to equip their branches and other facilities with a network of charging infrastructure to offer to their employees and clients. This investment is part of the extensive plan to become completely carbon neutral by 2026.

Detail of charging stations in Libohost

KB’s charging stations will be a combination of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) charging stations. The AC charging stations supply power via the onboard rectifier of the electric car to its battery. They use a standard mains voltage of 50 Hz, which is converted in the rectifier into a suitable DC charging current for the electric vehicle battery. The size of the onboard rectifiers is determined by the limited space requirements and the possibility of cooling the waste heat that is generated during the charging process directly on board the car. Practically speaking, this limits the maximum charging power of AC charging stations. Moreover, charging stations are available with various power outputs, the most powerful ones being those that reach peak charging outputs of 22 kW. Subsequently, it was the installation of these peak stations with the highest available charging power that Greenbuddies Charging carried out in March 2022 at two KB, Inc. facilities. Specifically, these are the KB branch at Václavské Náměstí 42 and the KB training centre in Libohošt’. The installation technology was directly supplied by the partner company ChargeUp Services, CZ from the manufacturer Circontrol.

Furthermore, alternating charging stations are the most commonly used type of charging infrastructure. However, it can take several hours to fully charge an electric vehicle via an AC charging station. Hence, KB, a.s. wants to offer its clients and employees maximum comfort in the form of fast recharging of the electric car battery. This entails that the battery can be recharged in a period of a few minutes to an hour via DC charging stations. This charging technology, which is available at some petrol stations on motorways, uses rectified energy to charge the electric car battery. This energy is then fed directly to the battery terminals via the electric car’s charging control circuitry.

Detail Circontrol wallbox, Source: elektrickevozy.cz                                                                                                                                                                                                                    EV Charging stations in Libohošť

The DC station rack provides all technical solutions for energy rectification, loss cooling, and other complex issues. The latter results in a complex device that is usually difficult to notice at charging points. Our Greenbuddies Charging team has a wealth of experience in the installation, maintenance, and preventive servicing of DC charging stations. This includes and is actualised through regular long-term cooperation with DC charging station manufacturer Tritium. The latter is one of the exclusive suppliers of Ionity’s pan-European charging network technology.

A total of 24 Circontrol eNext Park T 22k W AC charging stations were installed at the two KB, a.s. locations. During the first stage of construction, preparations were made for the installation of two Circontrol Raption 50 kW DC stations. These will be added in the second phase of construction. We are very pleased to be part of this major innovative project primarily aimed at reducing emissions and striving for carbon neutrality in automotive traffic.

Sources:
https://www.business-car.cz/neprehlednete/komercni-banka-elektrifikuje-svou-flotilu-zaroven-poridi-uctyhodnych-140-dobijecich-stanic
https://oenergetice.cz/elektromobilita/komercni-banka-zprovoznila-u-svych-objektu-89-dobijecich-stanic-pro-elektroauta
https://cc.cz/komercka-elektrifikuje-flotilu-131-enyaqy-jeji-vlastnik-nakupem-leaseplanu-upevnuje-pozici-v-operativnim-leasingu/

Ikaros Solar – new Greenbuddies customer

In this newsletter, we would like to announce the good cooperation with a new and promising customer: Ikaros Solar.

With this Pan-European EPC giant, we started to discuss the installation activities of a 3 MWp ground-mounted solar park in a weird location in the Netherlands some months ago. As Greenbuddies we like weird locations as we are proud to be named ‘the Unstoppables’.

The location itself (South of Rotterdam) is between a few highways and the HSL (train to Paris) and is partly flat and partly sloped and has a quite soft underground structure. Nothing is standard here. The pictures show some of the works.

In the sales department, we recognize that the cooperation is moving forward positively as the number of RfQs from Ikaros is increasing rapidly.
We trust we can report much more on this promising customer in the near future.

  Detail of the terraine                                                                                                                                                                                 Site of the future PV plant near Rotterdam, NL

Solar projects and subsidy calls in the Czech Republic

The solar energy sector in the Czech Republic has seen dynamic development in recent months.

Greenbuddies Consulting offers its customers in the Czech Republic a complete portfolio of services in the preparatory and design phase – from the framework design of the PV plant to the processing of the connection application as well as the project documentation for the building permit. Moreover, an important part of the services is the processing of the application for the relevant subsidy and the provision of the necessary formalities. The construction of the approved projects is subsequently handled by Greenbuddies or Greenbuddies Charging.

An NPO subsidy request for a rooftop PV up to 1 MW is currently underway, and other calls for rooftop PV, support for electromobility and charging stations are expected to be announced. The expected RES+ subsidy will be dedicated to large solar projects. Looking at the bigger picture, the support that these subsidies will offer ranges from 35% to 50% of the relevant costs.

Ilustrative picture, Source: Unsplash

HDSolar cooperation with Greenbuddies continues

In the Solar Roofing sector, we focus primarily on C&I roofs from roughly 1000 panels and more, where we have shown and proved our competitiveness.

One of the successful instances we would like to highlight in this newsletter is the cooperation with HDSolar. Last year, we installed a roof consisting of 0.5 MWp in Helmond for HDSolar. Furthermore, concerning the same company, a 1.1 MWp roof was installed in Valkenswaard (See picture). We are also pleased to mention that this month as well as next month, two more roofs of 0.5 MWp will be placed in Eindhoven and Panningen.

Concerning the roof installation in Valkenswaard, it was our first time working with a team originating from Ukraine. We would like to mention this because the cooperation we experienced with them was very pleasant and insightful. Furthermore, due to the devastating situation in that region, we are doing our best to make sure that these team members and their families are doing all right to the point that is possible for them.

Greenbuddies building a rooftop PV plant in Valkenswaard

The implementation of these installations was primarily without issues, but we noticed the reoccurring issue that each customer has a different idea of how to solve the issues with induction loops. Therefore, it is always necessary to not only clarify goals and desired results at the beginning of the project but also to test out and provide an example in a small form. This is to have the accuracy of the implementation confirmed and thus avoid the need to unnecessarily rework the already-completed parts of the PV plant due to client dissatisfaction.

In reflection, this was a good example of positive teamwork where pro-active communication with our clients is shown to be of great importance.

Market Footprint 1Q 2022 20.04.2022

Greetings,

We hope all is well with you and your business!

We would like to share some news with you. 

We will be attenting Intersolar Europe this year and we would like to invite you to our Greenbuddies stand A5.258. The trade fair takes place in May 11–13, 2022 at the Messe München. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Today, we are happy to say we have already completed over 500 MWp in the past 5 years and are still growing day by day. You can check out the details in our quarterly Market footprint.

If you have any projects where we can be of any help, don’t hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards,

Greenbuddies Tips – March 2022 24.03.2022

Greenbuddies project in the Netherlands

Concrete roofs in Gozo have transformed into solar energy plants thanks to our Greenbuddies team

Our team oversaw the DC installation on the Maltese island of Gozo for our client “MyEnergy”. The project spanned over two roofs with different levels, with a capacity of 700 kWp. We have installed a total of 1578 modules and 6 inverters in two weeks, despite the number of days with strong winds, which are typical for this area.

Malta is a perfect country for producing energy from the sun, but as on every island, there are location obstacles to overcome. In light of Photovoltaic Installations aspiring to meet the country’s quota for carbon neutrality, most of these installations are placed on roofs.

Detail of Gozo roof project

This project was spread over two roofs, one of which lies on top of a water reservoir. Both these surfaces were flat, and this enabled a special type of concrete mounting system to be utilized. The support structures made by the Italian company “Sunballast” have a 10° inclination and do not require the fixing of the ballast onto the roof, saving a lot of time during the entire installation process. Moreover, these substructures have a high wind resistance which allows for a more resilient structure considering the nature of high winds in Malta.

This was our second project in Malta, and we believe that there are a lot of opportunities for building more PV installations there. One of the main reasons being that the Maltese government has issued projects of support for installations with a total investment of over 26 million Euro in the span of the coming 20 years. The country has a current aim to obtain 11.5% of its energy from renewable sources, but it strives to surpass this number.

We are proud that our Greenbuddies team has helped in adding another renewable source of energy to Malta.

Details of Gozo DC installation project

Global electric vehicle sales up 109% in 2021

Despite adverse market conditions, analytical research on the global electric vehicle market estimate that 6.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) were sold worldwide in 2021. This results in a sales increase of 109% in comparison to 2020. This EV count includes both fully electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars. However, the total global car market rose by merely 4% in 2021. This is due to the continued struggle of coping with COVID-19 restrictions in relation to chip shortages. Moreover, EV sales represented 9% of all passenger car sales in 2021.

The demand for EVs remained prominent in 2021, but it can be argued that many more would have been sold had it not been for the component shortages still affecting every car manufacturer globally.

Illustrative photo, source: Unsplash

The following points provide an indication of global sales numbers:

  • 85% of EVs sold globally were delivered to customers in Mainland China and Europe.
  • 3.2 million EVs were sold in 2021 in Mainland China, accounting for 15% of all new cars sold.
  • 2.3 million EVs were sold in Europe, accounting for 19% of new cars.
  • In comparison, while demand has been growing, just 4% of new cars sold in the US in 2021 were EVs, some 535,000 units.

Graph of EV registrations 2020-2021, Source: Smarter E Europe

While purchase prices for most EV models are currently still higher than comparable combustion engine cars, electric cars are expected to reach parity with conventional models in the mid-2020s. However, the total costs of ownership (TCO) are more important to consumers and is already lower for some EVs. All this while considering how much it costs to fuel, maintain, and insure the car. The following graph shows the number of registered e-vehicles in European countries.

Additionally, strategically designed taxation is key to making electric cars more affordable. For instance, France, Italy, and Sweden have implemented the bonus-malus tax system that rewards vehicles that emit relatively low amounts of CO2 (up to 60 grams per km) with a financial bonus. The system also burdens vehicles that have high CO2 emissions with a higher tax.

Canalys, a leading global technology market analyst company, has reported that over 3.2 million EVs were sold in Mainland China in 2021 which is half of all the electric cars sold worldwide. Moreover, this is an increase of 2 million sales in the country in 2020. Various new car models are being launched every month within each important market segment, from tiny, inexpensive city cars to mainstream and premium sedans and SUVs. Additionally, 15% of new cars sold in 2021 in Mainland China were EVs, which more than double the percentage when comparing it to 2020, and there is still a large opportunity for future growth in 2022 and the years to come.   

Europe still boasts the highest level of EV adoption

Traditional car makers are increasingly electrifying their products in Europe. EVs represented 19% of total car sales in 2021 with 2.3 million vehicles delivered. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2021, but Volkswagen Group was the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, with several models from Audi, Skoda and VW also having high sales numbers.

Sales of EVs in the US continue fall behind in comparison to sales in Mainland China and Europe. Merely 4% of new cars sold in the US in 2021 were EVs. In the US, several new EVs were launched in 2021 and sales momentum and consumer interest are increasing, however Tesla continues to dominate EV sales in the US with an estimated share of just under 60%.

Graph of the top electric car manufacturers in 2021, Source: Canalys

Agrivoltaics – a possibility for dual use of agricultural land

Agrivoltaics is now a term frequently mentioned in the media all over Europe. The principle of agrivoltaics is to use an area of agricultural land for farming activities together with an installed photovoltaic plant, without limiting agricultural production or having a negative impact on agricultural production. The aim is therefore to increase the usability of the area.

An installed PV plant on agricultural land has many potential benefits:

  • Additional income for the farmer
  • Protects crops from hail, frost, wind, excessive drying, torrential rain
  • A study by Clarkson and Wood proves that biodiversity levels are often higher on PV sites than on equivalent agricultural land. [1]

Installation of east-west photovoltaic panels on agricultural land, Source                                                                                                                                     Installation of photovoltaic panels over agricultural land, Source

There are essentially two options for PV installations. The first option is vertical panels with an East/West orientation and the second option is panels placed at a minimum height of 2,1 m (see photo above). The installation of East-West PV panels has the advantage of producing the most electricity in the morning and in the early evening when peak electricity demand occurs. The plant produces more electricity during the year when comparing to a PV plant facing to the South. Additionally, the production better matches the daily electricity consumption profile. In hot and dry summers, the panels also prevent water evaporation from the soil. The spacing between the panels must be large enough to prevent them from shading each other and to allow further soil and crop cultivation. With sufficient spacing, PV is not in any way a limiting factor to the crops.

The second installation option is where the panels are located on suspended structures and spaced in order to allow for sufficient light to pass through. This is known as ‘solar sharing’. The panels serve as a shading mechanism that is optimised for the crops. The installation can be tilted, so the PV can be adapted to the immediate conditions. In times of heat or drought, the PV provides shade and protects the plants from direct sunlight, reducing water consumption in addition to protecting the crops from hail. In freezing weather, PV creates a roof that allows the ground temperature to remain up to 3° higher than on fields without PV [2][3]

The energy that is produced can either be connected to the distribution grid or the source is used to supply electricity for:

  • farms
  • biogas plants (increases overall production efficiency)
  • irrigation
  • charging agricultural machinery
  • charging of electric vehicles (possibility to take power from the field to the road)

Across Europe, these new installations are expanding, and there are already known working installations in France and Germany. In Japan, the suspended PV systems have been tested for 19 years.

Energy consumtion model, Source

In the Czech Republic, it is currently not possible to use agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, but changes to the Building Act are also being discussed which should speed up and allow for the relevant processes. These changes are expected to realise the way to agrivoltaics. However, changing this law alone is not enough; not only would other regulations need to be changed, but especially the approach to the mixed use of agricultural land with energy production would need nudging.

[1] Clarkson&Woods. The Effects of Solar Farm on Local Biodiversity: A Comparative Study. [Online] In: http://www.clarksonwoods.co.uk/projects/projects_solarresearch.html
[2] Mgr. Jiří Zilvar. Pole stíněné fotovoltaikou – Agrivoltaika jako odpověď zemědělců na klimatickou změnu. [Online] In: https://oze.tzb-info.cz/fotovoltaika/19302-pole-stinene-fotovoltaikou
[3] Mgr. Jiří Zilvar. Agrivoltaika – řešení pro nová solární pole. [Onlie] In: https://oze.tzb-info.cz/fotovoltaika/19000-agrivoltaika-reseni-pro-nova-solarni-pole

Greenbuddies Tips – February 2022 23.02.2022

Greenbuddies project in Belgium

Greenbuddies take part in PV plant on multiple roofs

Our Greenbuddies team was working over 9 months on a site of a major PV project in Belgium. With a total capacity of 23 MWp on various roof levels, on carports and surface, the investor – a global player in the steel market, ranging from stainless, electrical to specialty steel – will consume at least 97% of all the energy produced directly at their premises.

Our team has built dozens of megawatts on rooftops across Europe, but this time we had to – together with our customer – overcome a whole new set of obstacles. You can judge for yourself.

Workers on Greenbuddies project site

Obstacles the Greenbuddies team had to overcome:

  • Long DC string routes (as the inverters are only located in two nests on the ground next to the substations) – the longest single string route is 400 m

  • The PV panels are located on the roofs of variously tall production halls (building heights between 15 m and 35 m)

  • Planning required early preparation and daily coordination between the manufacturing company – EPC – the installation partner (our responsible construction manager), as the hall had to be closed for short periods of time while the material was being lifted onto the roof by crane

  • The cables were even routed over two cable trays connecting the production halls – the work was carried out from forklift platforms

  • Due to the nature of the production area, a variety of machines were used, ranging from a rotating telescopic handler, to car cranes and all-terrain platforms

  • The safety of the work was at a very high level. Often the roofs had to be worked in harnesses for safety reasons

  • The work took place over a period of almost 9 months (May 2021 to January 2022) as the roof cladding was being refurbished at the same time

Diagram of roof PV plants

The PV installation in the province of Limburg has a total capacity of 23 MWp with a yearly energy production of 20.3 GWh. This will result in 7300 ton of avoided CO² emissions, which is equal to the emissions of 5900 average households.  For this project the investor has received financial support (green certificates) from the Flemish government.

Thanks to this successful completion, we were awarded a very similar project in Italy at a truck manufacturer’s factory.

Floating PV – a renewable option for otherwise unused water masses

Alongside ground-mounted and rooftop PV systems, floating solar systems are the third and newest pillar of the global solar PV market. In 2020, there were already around 350 operational systems in 35 countries with a cumulative capacity of approximately 2.6 GW. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be around 10 GW of such systems worldwide. The largest systems are being built in Asia, and this year a 320 MW floating PV park was commissioned in China, roughly ten times the size of the largest PV array in the country to date.

Europe is still lagging, although there are countries closer to harnessing water for photovoltaics, such as the Netherlands. Here there are several systems with a total of 10 MW and very recently 2 new solar parks have been completed, one with the size of almost 30 MW and one over 40 MW in Sellingen.

Illustrative photo, source: keyscience.org

Germany includes floating photovoltaics among its priorities for innovation support – so-called innovation tenders for floating solar power plants will also take place in April. In total, the German government will support 50 MW in this round, but in smaller systems of up to 2 MW.

Although photovoltaic systems on water require an investment of around 25% more than systems on land, floating photovoltaics have several undeniable advantages:

  • PV plants do not occupy any land, except for the limited space required for the electrical cabinet and grid connection

  • There are no fixed structures, so their installation and removal after their useful life is easy

  • partial covering of the tanks can reduce evaporation of water.

  • natural cooling from the water surface raises the efficiency of the panels, claimed to be up to 8-10%

  • a floating power plant can be built as a fixed plant or with trackers, so the panels can be rotated to follow the sun, and the purchase of a tracker for floating power plants represents a less substantial increase in price (thanks to a simpler design and construction), while the energy gain can range from 15 to 25%

Floating project in the Netherlands, photo courtesy of Floating Energy

Both freshwater areas and the sea are suitable for photovoltaic systems, but in the Czech Republic they will mostly be built on flooded coal mines. This economy is also moving away from coal, so a number of water bodies have been, are being and will be created, some of which will be used for recreation, but other sites will not relinquish their role as an energy source. To grasp this opportunity, we have teamed up with Floating Energy, a Dutch company with experience in building floating PV systems in its home market, and together we are preparing to work with some major Czech players to develop floating power plants on water bodies on the scale of several tens of megawatts.

Greenbuddies Charging was on hand to help Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg turn the sun into electricity!

The Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg is one of Europe’s leading baby and kids spas. With numerous slides, a park-like sunbathing landscape in the outdoor area with dozens of attractions and natural shade, the Relax World and sauna area, however, young people and adults also find their fun at the Sonnentherme.

In order for the Sonnentherme to be able to efficiently use the available parking space for energy generation, it was decided to build a photovoltaic carport system. The facility comprises a total of 454 covered parking spaces, which not only produce green energy, but also provide protection from the sun and precipitation for the vehicles. We are very proud that we have not only built the largest PV carport in Austria, but also one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the country overall.

Overview of Sonnentherme Luzmannsburg – Installation of carports, solar plant and EV chargers 

The challenge for the Greenbuddies Charging team, on behalf of the company E-König from Bad Völslau, was not only building the project, but also organizing and executing the complete project planning, purchasing the required material, along with participating in the negotiations for the building permit and finally, completing the project in several construction phases, all DC electrical work included.

Despite several difficult circumstances, such as the retroactively prescribed ecological drainage system, COVID-19 lockdown in Austria, Suez crisis and the related delays in the supply chain of suppliers, ongoing operation of the Sonnentherme during the holiday season and the need for full parking capacity, we can look back on the project with pride. All the difficulties that are unavoidable in a project of such magnitude and degree of difficulty were solved to the customer’s complete satisfaction and the project was thus completed on schedule before the end of 2021. Thus, we have once again shown that we are the “Unstoppables”!

At this point, we would like to thank all our partners for their cooperation and completion of the project and hope for a fruitful and successful cooperation on future projects.

DATES & FACTS:

  • Construction period: March to October 2021, full operation from December 2021.

  • Rain gutter system designed by Greenbuddies Charging, which looks very elegant and suitable for the carports

  • Futuristic LED lighting system designed by Greenbuddies Charging incl. realisation and installation

  • Realisation of the prescribed feed-in limitation to 50kW: Supplier company Gantner.

  • Coverage: system covers approx. 30% of the electricity demand of the Sonnentherme and the Hotel Sonnenpark 

  • Own consumption: approx. 99% 

  • Total investment: approx. € 2.5 million 

  • This project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund

Greenbuddies Tips – January 2022 25.01.2022

Source: Unsplash.com

A shift in the approach to understanding quality

We at Greenbuddies hold several ISO certifications. In 2018, we met the requirements for ISO 9001:2015, which specifies requirements for the quality management system. As of 2021 we have been certified for ISO 45001:2018, a standard focused on occupational health and safety.

ISO 9001 provides a process-oriented approach to documenting and reviewing the structure, responsibilities and procedures needed to achieve effective quality management in an organization. Organizations use this standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.

ISO 45001 was first published in 2018 to replace the older OHSAS (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) 18001:2007 and specifies the requirements for an occupational health and safety management system. Reducing occupational health and safety risks and preventing workplace accidents is one of the most important challenges that businesses face on a day-to-day basis and this standard provides guidance and procedures to help organizations create safe workplaces.

Workers on Greenbuddies project site

“As standards involving product/product/service quality evolve, the perception of companies involved in implementing quality systems is shifting. Quality is no longer just about product quality, but also includes systems relating to workplace safety, the company’s impact on its environment and the overall social responsibility of the company,” says Ing. Tomáš Pokorný, Senior Partner at e-ISO a.s. “The motivation for obtaining a certified system has also changed significantly. When a company operates in multiple international markets, a certified system is then a clear advantage, as many national regulations are based on international ISO standards. An example is the VCA occupational safety certification process in the Netherlands, which essentially incorporates elements of ISO 9001 and ISO 45001. For companies that supply their products to multiple international markets, certification to international standards is then a necessity,” he adds.

In Benelux, it is common practice to assess the safety risks of PV construction both on the roof and in the field using the VCA method. Our project managers and construction managers have been certified as VCA or its German equivalent SGU at the level of Operational Supervisers. The installers can get by with Basic Elements of Safety.

For Greenbuddies, certification is a tool for adjusting internal processes and improving our position in the market, where the company often meets the criteria for winning contracts thanks to these standards. In the future we also plan to obtain the ISO 14001 certification, which is an elegant tool for managing the environmental impact of the company’s activities. Through this, the company demonstrates its commitment to pollution prevention, compliance with legal requirements and continuous improvement of its environmental management system, saving energy and material resources.

What is the future of the European Union on the global battery market?

Battery technologies are one of the pillars of the energy transition. Batteries make it possible to electrify the transportation sector and integrate renewable energy into the energy mix. These two areas of development are at the heart of the European Union’s strategy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The global energy storage market is booming. By 2025, stationary battery storage capacities and sales of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles should jump compared to 2020 by 450% to 78 GWh and 390% to 700 GWh respectively. In terms of value, the European market alone could represent 250 billion euros per year from 2025, according to the figures used by the European Commission. In addition to this, the battery is a strategic issue for the automotive industry:          it represents between 30 and 40% of the price of an electric vehicle.

Source: Unsplash

The market remains highly dependent on government support in the automotive and stationary storage sectors. Lowering the cost of storage solutions is the best way to achieve a sustainable growth. This cost reduction depends mainly on innovation and economies of scale. Battery manufacturers are investing heavily in new production capacity and research. Innovation efforts are also important among integrators. Operators are also preparing to deal with growing constraints in terms of environmental impact and integration into a circular economy approach. A constraint that harbors many development opportunities through the reuse of used batteries and recycling.

The electrification of transportation could reverse the balance of power in the global automotive market in favor of China and accelerate European deindustrialization.

Nearly three-quarters of global battery cell production capacity was located in China in 2019. This industrial dominance goes further and extends to the manufacturing of key battery cell components: two-thirds of production of cathode and anode are in China. China has also established itself upstream in the value chain. Batteries are at the heart of a new geopolitics of raw materials. Chinese mining companies have made significant overseas acquisitions to secure their supplies.

The European Union is now facing multiple challenges. The battery production will have to be competitive in order to withstand the Chinese competition. The recyclability of batteries remains a major objective. Finally, there is hope that new chemicals under development could potentially disrupt the global market. The development of a European battery industry is therefore a priority to enable the EU to ensure its energy transition and defend its economic interests.

Account Manager for Benelux

Greenbuddies Energy BV in the Netherlands has celebrated its first year of existence. Within that year, the team has grown significantly, especially in order to serve our partner in development of PV plants, SENS Energy. In addition to this, the contracting market in the Netherlands also needs a lot of attention, so we have decided to add an Account Manager, who would be dedicated to this booming market.

Siem Kompier has joined the team in October and has successfully taken over the agenda from Jos Schlagen, who manages the company in Eindhoven. His target market is not only in Holland, but he is responsible for developing the market in Belgium and Luxembourg. You can read a short Q&A about Siem below:

What has surprised you most about working with Greenbuddies?

What has surprised me most about working with Greenbuddies is the quantity of stakeholders who are involved in the whole process of delivering projects. Excellent communication between all parties is necessary to execute a project successfully. 

Besides that, the amount of confidence and independence that was given to me has been, to my surprise, exceeding my expectations. The working environment can be described as an informal yet result driven – one that is always ready for a beer to kick start the weekend.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The most challenging thing about my job as an account manager is to communicate the correct message, find the right people, and transform this into a reliable partnership. 

Secondly, as a newcomer in the solar industry, it has proven to be quite difficult to completely understand all the technical and operational elements off the process in a short timeframe.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I consider myself as an active and social individual that has a variety of hobbies. I work out 4 times a week in the gym, and I play soccer 2 times a week. In the summer I like to cruise with my motorcycle to beautiful locations with my friends and I also really really love to travel. And finally, I like to drink beer.

How would (someone) describe you?

My friends and family would describe me as a social person, that is very open, honest, and sincere. Moreover, I am very straightforward, which means that sometimes it would be a better idea to be a little bit more strategical in my word of choice. However, this does not take away my great sense of humor.

Market Footprint 4Q 2021 18.01.2022

Greetings,

We hope all is well in the new year 2022!

We would like to share some news with you. Our extended focus on e-mobility has achieved a considerable milestone. Greenbuddies Charging have handed over a project in Austria, which consisted of solution design and installation of a 1,5 MWp roof PV plant, along with 10 stations of 22 kWp EV chargers.

Today, we are happy to say we have already completed over 500 MWp in the past 4 years and are still growing day by day. You can check out the details in our quarterly Market footprint.

If you have any projects where we can be of any help, don’t hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards,